Four years ago the people of the United States of America voted in Donald Trump as their president. It was totally unexpected as he ran against Hilary Clinton who was almost certain to get in and be the first female to ever hold this important office. Unfortunately, this was a shock to the majority of those who voted and became one of the worst decisions that the electorate could ever have made. In fact, it was to become a decision that not only set their country back, but has also had negative repercussions throughout the world.
I was so shocked at the outcome that I wrote a blog declaring Trump as the country’s 45th president: “The People Have Spoken” – A Canadian’s View of the American 2016 Election. It may seem strange to you that a Canadian would be so affected by what happened in 2016 and now again in 2020 on the political scene in the US. Is it because we share a continent with them and have such similar interests? Or, is it for me the realization that I could have been one of the many disillusioned Americans today if my paternal ancestors had decided that they didn’t want to be a part of the American Revolution. Opting to remain under British rule, they accepted the offer of some land in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia which the English had taken from the French.
Or, perhaps I feel so connected to our southern neighbours because like so many Canadians, I grew up at a time when we were influenced by their Hollywood movies, music, books, protests, and history. Would you believe that in Grade 12, I had to study their complicated system of government where the role of the Electoral College is a mystery to many even today? In retrospect their culture looked to our young minds as far more exciting than ours. This isn’t the case today, I am proud to say. Also, Nova Scotia has always had very close ties to the eastern states as trading partners, for work opportunities, universities offering what perhaps we didn’t have here, and, of course, for tourism. As a child one of my favourite summer pastimes was to count the number of license plates from states as far away as California.
If you read my previous blog on the 2016 election, you will see that my initial shock quickly turned to suggesting that perhaps we should give the new President the benefit of our doubt and endeavour to keep up some hope that just maybe he would follow the advice that Hilary Clinton was so gracious to give him after her defeat. Now today as I sit here again trying to put my thoughts into writing, I see that Trump’s legacy will be to leave behind a more divided country in a state of chaos fulfilling our worst nightmares.
However, it won’t be the end of the world. After a nail-biting wait for the final count of the ballots to be tallied up, we now have Biden as the clear winner of the oval office. Here is our first ray of hope because if he had not won and Trump had, well who knows? No doubt it would have been far worse.
Everyone I know was heartened by Biden’s first speech after he was declared the winner. In spite of his 77 years and sometimes lack luster speeches, this speech showed an astounding vigor and eagerness to take on the daunting task of fixing the mess that his country is facing. He looked and sounded like a man in charge and most importantly he gave his people some hope. “We are in a battle for the soul of our nation,” he said. He couldn’t have said it better.
No one that I have spoken to or listened to on the media is anticipating any kind of smooth transition for Biden as he takes on his new role as the country’s 46th president. It’s no surprise to millions, if not billions of open minded and truth seeking people, that Trump will show his true colours as one very sore loser by pulling out all his ugly tricks to claim that he is the rightful winner, proclaiming that all those who voted against him are his enemies. He will undoubtedly try to make the whole transition process into another war to this already divided country. The uncertainty of what he will do is still a threat that could plunge the country into one of its darkest hours. Then again he could possibly surprise us by showing a tad of maturity and common sense that he has indeed lost his war and rather than prolong another agonizing battle for nothing other than to appease his over inflated ego, he will bow out. We never know how he will react so in the end we can only hope he will attempt to take the high road.
Another ray of hope is Biden’s choice of a Black woman of Caribbean and Asian descent as his Vice President. Kamala Harris could not be a better choice to take on this role when the matter of race is a major issue tearing the country apart. She has also accomplished the monumental effort it takes for a woman to break that proverbial ‘glass ceiling’ which will hopefully pave the way for yet more American women to succeed in the political field.
The third bit of good news for the people of America is Biden’s promise to tackle the task of dealing with COVID, one that Trump sorely neglected allowing the US to have the highest rate of deaths in the world. To address this as a top priority will hopefully bring some peace of mind to most Americans.
Biden’s victory is potentially good news for Canada. He is clearly concerned for our rapidly changing climate which will hopefully call a halt to any further devastation to our environment, such as the building of more pipelines, fracking, and deforestation. We are all aware that this was another subject that Trump denied and refused to address. This will certainly help Canada in its plans to address this very important subject. Our Prime Minister was the first world leader to congratulate Biden on his win so inroads have already taken place in forging a compatible working relationship for our two countries once again.
In closing, my message to all Americans (and Canadians) would be to take to heart this particular quote from John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country?”
Truer words could not have been spoken especially at this time. His exhortation was to the American people but is also one that applies to Canada and all countries where democracy prevails. We must change our focus to see beyond our own backyard and look to other parts our country and the world. If we can’t do that physically through higher education and travel, then we can at least read or listen to what is happening around us and most importantly not rely totally on what we see or hear on TV and Facebook. We should always be open to shifting our focus to various sources for our information. We have to do our homework and not rely on one source such as Trump’s tweets! Then, we need to take time to focus on the past by getting acquainted with our history. It’s absolutely amazing to see how our histories have been one of constant warfare and other human atrocities towards our neighbours and environment. Knowing this will help us to understand the ‘why’ for an explanation as to how we have ended up in the mess our world is facing today.
Fellow Americans, you must not expect Biden and his party members to save your country. Trump is living in a bygone era when he says “We can make America great again.” It’s true that America has been a beacon of light for so many people around the world. Unfortunately, because of him your light has dimmed over the last four years bringing you to the point where you now have the choice to reignite it or let it go out. You have shown that the majority of you want to keep the flame alive by voting for democracy. You have a leader who truly believes in that who will desperately need your help in every way possible. You have a second chance to begin a new path to make it right. I pray that you can do it.